Brain Drain: Will the Last Doctor in Kosovo Turn Out the Lights?

Shkumbin Ahmetxhekaj Gorance, Pristina, Nuremberg, Munich, Ivankovo, Zagreb

BIRN reveals the alarming impact of emigration on Kosovo’s health system — exacerbated by an unregulated private industry churning out medical staff for export to Germany.

Arife Berisha, 65, has her blood pressure taken by a nurse in the Kosovo village of Gorance. Photo: Shkumbin Ahmetxhekaj

In the end, it was the commute that clinched it.

Blerim Berisha was a resident cardiologist at the University Clinical Centre of Kosovo in the capital, Pristina, where he worked days administering electrocardiograms and ultrasounds.

After an eight-hour shift, he would jump in his jalopy and barrel down the M9 freeway to the town of Klina, 60 kilometres west of Pristina, where he lived with his wife, daughter and son.

Not that he would see much of them. The only way to make ends meet was to work night shifts at a prison 30 kilometres away. Then home for a quick nap, and back to Pristina to do it all again.

“Sometimes it felt like I’d never get any sleep at all,” he recalled. “And forget about having time for my family.”

These days, Berisha, 42, drives to work past half-timbered houses in the picturesque town of Pegnitz, near the German city of Nuremberg, where he works as a cardiologist at the town’s main hospital.

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